Chevron awards teacher innovations
Kern County Superintendent of Schools Chevron Teacher/Classroom Grant recipients and supporters (from left) Teacher Kevin Crosby, Principal Patty McDowell, Director Julianna Gaines, Teacher Pam Beavers, Vice Principal Debra Porter, Teacher Delmy Jones, Teacher Marie Walker, Teacher Gaylene Roberts and Special Education Services Administrator Pam Sanders.
Among the 37 who received the grants on Aug. 7 at the Chevron Energy Center in Bakersfield were five teachers from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools' (KCSOS) Special Education Services. Four of the five teach severely handicapped children and one, Delmy Jones, teaches behaviorally-challenged students at Aurora School in Bakersfield. The other KCSOS teachers are Pam Beavers, Kevin Crosby and Marie Walker, who all teach at Sunset School in Bakersfield, and Gaylene Roberts who teaches at Centennial Elementary in Bakersfield.
"Being able to give a little extra this year, really helped," said Chevron San Joaquin Valley Policy, Government and Public Affairs Representative Roger Christy. "You never like to say ‘no,' to a teacher with a really good program, and by moving the line we didn't have to. The grants are our way of helping out in the community. And the fun part is seeing the new ideas that teachers come up with each year. Ideas that you have never heard of that are important. And as you go over each one, you have to wonder what would happen, if these teachers were never given a chance."
The selection process was competitive, keeping in mind that Chevron's goal with the grants is to "support exemplary projects and innovations in math, science, reading, health and safety training, along with helping prepare students for the work place."
One of the most excited recipients was Beavers. She has been teaching 11 years and had never before written a grant. With the $280 she received, Beavers said she was going to rush right out and purchase a CD player and several music CDs for her classroom.
"It wasn't really as hard as I expected," Beavers said. "Now, I can't wait to write the next one. Some of my severely handicapped students are really shy and that prevents them from participating in academics. Music is an answer. They lose their inhibitions and all of a sudden fears are gone about making mistakes. It gives them the confidence to join in and try other things."
Walker, Beavers' first-year teaching colleague at Sunset, has even more ambitious plans for her $1,000 grant. She is buying a computer and software for her classroom.
"My hopes start with this one computer," Walker said. "In the years ahead, I want to buy nine more and start a computer lab for severely handicapped students so we can help them through assistive technology and keyboards designed for them."
Technology was also on the mind of Crosby, when he applied for a Chevron grant. He is purchasing a digital camera.
"My students can learn through pictures," Crosby said. "We can download the photos to a printer so the children can see the pictures immediately. Then, each student can use the pictures for visual aids in making their own vocabulary books. And the camera will be a visual learning asset in many other tasks, too."
Roberts has been a recipient of Chevron grants in the past and in 12 years of teaching knows how valuable they can be. This time she is using the money to purchase a convection oven that has scientific possibilities for her classroom.
"The plan is to enhance reading and math for my students by incorporating science in cooking," Roberts said. "Cooking involves the senses. By smelling, seeing, touching, tasting, it helps them relate to the activity they are performing, such as making cookies. Because to make the cookies, you also have to remember the reading and math skills needed for each step.
Just as it was the case for Beavers, this too was Jones' first attempt at writing a grant. Working with behaviorally-challenged children, means teaching social skills.
"My grant, called "Diamonds in the Rough" resulted in receiving revenue to allow me to take the students on field trips away from school," Jones said. "To be included, they will have to earn the privilege. A lot of their parents don't have the money to take them places. It gives the students a chance to learn about social skills while out in society, and their parents won't have to pay for it. It wasn't as scarey writing this grant as I thought it would be, and I plan to apply for more in the future."
Actually, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, plays another role in the grant program. It collaborates with Chevron on the distribution of checks to the recipients with funds provided by Chevron.
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